With the Malaysia Budget 2018 (Bajet 2018) fast approaching, prime minister Najib Razak has shared his economic vision for Malaysia.
Expressing how he aims “to put Malaysia in the global stage; to be among the top 20 nations in the world by 2050”, he commented: “No accomplishment can ever be greater than putting Malaysia on the best track for its future.”
“That is my vision for our Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) initiative,” he continued.
In his speech, PM Najib recollected how Malaysia was going through the global recession when he came into office. At that time, Malaysia had immediately implemented two big economic stimulus packages worth RM67 billion to pump money into its economy - to revive and save it from an even deeper contraction.
He then highlighted how the KL Stock Exchange plunged by more than 50%, with thousands losing their jobs and businesses going bankrupt, and “there was real and widespread suffering.”
PM Najib said: “We knew that we had to undertake wholescale reform. We knew that to escape the middle-income trap and achieve our goal of becoming a high income status nation, we had to have an overarching, prudent economic plan – a roadmap, with key performance indicators and measurable outcomes so that we could test our progress and make sure we were keeping on track.
To which he addressed the National Transformation Programme (NTP), with its key component, the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) - as the solution.
On that note, he remarked: “Some people have called that Najibnomics – I didn’t come up with the name!
“But I don’t mind people using the term, as seven years on we can see that the plan – which has the good of the Malaysian people at its heart and is its overriding aim – has delivered, and continues to deliver,” he added.
In fact, with the NTP, Malaysia’s gross national income has increased by nearly 50%, while narrowing the gap towards the high income target from 33% to19%. Additionally, PM Najib highlighted that 2.26 million jobs have been created, of which “more than one million are high income jobs.”
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Economic growth in Malaysia
PM Najib then moved to highlighting how the country has seen 14 business MOUs between Malaysia and China worth RM144 billion; 31 business MOUs between Malaysia and India worth RM158.4 billion; as well as a USD7 billion investment in Malaysia by Saudi Aramco.
PM Najib commented: “These will bring thousands of new jobs, transfers of skills, and improved standards of living for countless families.”
“And over that time, despite the huge turmoil in the global economy, the oil shock, and the disastrous recessions that hit much of Europe, almost destroying some counties, we registered year upon year of healthy growth,” he continued.
In fact, according to PM Najib, The World Bank recently revised their prediction for Malaysia’s growth to 5.2% for 2017 - which is the second time they have done so this year.
Transportation in Malaysia
PM Najib also brought forward the topic of public transportation in his speech. As a “nation of road users”, Malaysia has made great efforts in upgrading the roads - such as having large sections of the North-South Expressway have been expanded to three or four lanes compared to two lanes in the past.
However, he mentioned that other aspects of public transportation had, however, been “severely neglected by one of the predecessors”. On that, he noted that the first phase of the Mass Rapid Transit project was completed at the end of last year, and the second phase of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line was launched in July - under his government.
Currently having 51 kilometres of operational line with 31 stations, he noted how these projects have created 130,000 new jobs, of which 70,000 are direct employment. Not only that, they were completed ahead of schedule and RM2 billion below budget.
With that said, he added: “We are now planning for MRT 2 and 3, while in a few years’ time we will also have the first high-speed rail link connecting Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, which will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes, as compared to more than four hours by car.”
“But it’s not just about the Klang Valley or the west coast. Far from it. Our focus has been on other parts of Malaysia that had been neglected for far too long – because we wanted our development to be fairer, more inclusive, and to raise all sectors of the population and parts of our country,” he said.
Income in Malaysia
On the topic of income, PM Najib revealed that the people’s income per capita has also increased from RM27,819 in 2010 to RM40,713 in 2017.
He said: “Our monthly median income has increased from RM4,585 in 2014 to RM5,288 in 2016. And we have also seen an improvement in B40 household income – which has grown to RM3,000 in 2016 from RM2,629 in 2014.”
As a result, the country’s GINI ratio – which measures income equality – dropped from 0.441 in 2009 to 0.399 last year, the lowest in Malaysia’s history. In fact, PM Najib thinks that “Malaysia’s income equality has never been better.”
At the same time, he is aware that that the cost of living issues hit those on low incomes the hardest. Hence, the government has distributed RM5.36 billion in 1Malaysia People’s Aid, or BR1M, to 7.28 million households in 2016, and has introduced the minimum wage.
PM Najib will be presenting the Malaysia Bajet 2018 in a few days where he will reveal new initiatives and several major announcements to benefit all Malaysians.
“This Budget will continue to be guided by my goal to correct the problems of the past and to make Malaysia stronger, more competitive at home and abroad; to create a Malaysia that protects the vulnerable and is fair to all: a Malaysia where none of our brothers and sisters are left behind,” he concluded.
Photo / 123RF